My fingers have been tapping out of control for more than a month and a half now. Don't worry, though -- I am not falling to the symptoms of my own PTSD just yet. At the completion of the Winter Soldier event, all Iraq Veterans Against the War members in attendance received a copy of the movie soundtrack compiled by Body of War subject Tomas Young, a partially paralyzed veteran of the Iraq war. It is a two-disc eclectic ensemble of major artists such as Talib Kweli, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Franti, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Serj Tankian, and Tom Morello.
I nearly threw it away but instead hesitantly shoved the CD into my computer on the plane home. To my surprise, many of the lyrics are still stuck in my head, from Brendan James' therapeutic "Hero's Song" ("in the water, in the sand ... is the blood of an ancient people in whose holy war I stand") to System of a Down's fast-paced "B.Y.O.B." ("why don't princes fight the war, why do they always send the poor?").
If you are able to handle the recurrent explicit language, other notable tracks -- especially for evangelicals -- include Immortal Technique's scathing rebuke of religious bigotry in "The 4th Branch" ("The voice of racism preaching the gospel is devilish"), and Bright Eyes' inquisitive "When the President Talks to God" ("I wonder which one plays the better cop"). However, each of the 30 tracks has proven prophetic in its own right.
The deal was made even better when we were told that proceeds from sales do not line the pockets of music industry execs, but that 100% goes straight back to Iraq Veterans Against the War. Eddie Vedder worked directly with Tomas to secure artists' contributions for this inspiring soundtrack, and he convinced Sire Records to distribute it at-cost. He also provided his own forceful track, "No More," with Ben Harper (though Harper includes his own track, "Black Rain," about the lack of resources for New Orleans), and Pearl Jam contributed their live track "Masters of War."
Body of War is playing now in theaters throughout the country. The film follows Tomas from his enlistment in the Army through his deployment and subsequent activism to end the war through Iraq Veterans Against the War. Eddie Vedder teamed up with Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue, whose show on MSNBC was cancelled due to his outspoken opposition to the Bush administration's decision to unilaterally initiate a war of aggression (as defined by Article 5.1, Rome Statute, of the International Criminal Court), to produce the hard-hitting documentary of one veteran's struggle post-Iraq.
Visit the Body of War Web site to find a screening near you and get your copy of the soundtrack. You can find Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq Veteran on iTunes or maybe in the CD or MP3 player of a local veteran or service member.
Logan Laituri is a six-year Army veteran with combatant service in Iraq during OIF II and experience with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Israel and the West Bank. He is an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and has co-founded a faith-based veterans assistance initiative called Centurion's Purse, which seeks to provide financial and spiritual relief to fellow service members in need. He blogs at courageouscoward.blogspot.com.